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War museum Vitality

The Vitality Foundation opened its collection on the Second World War to visitors in November 2012. Various Zeeland stories from the period 1940-1945 come together in the new museum of the Foundation, where the initiator Andries Looijen has converted a barn attached to his house into an exhibition space. Much of the collection has been built up by Mr. Minus Gold from Krabbendijke. He has collected various uniforms, helmets, weapons and medals over the years. After the death of Minus Goud, Andries Looijen took over everything and immediately had the old barn next to his house in mind as an exhibition space for the various military objects.
The barn has since been renovated and the collection has been supplemented with objects obtained through other routes. For example, the remains of an English motor torpedo boat that sank on the Western Scheldt in 1944 have come into the possession of the Foundation through fishermen. In addition to the shells of a rifle and a toilet bowl for officers, a small perfume bottle of the French brand Chanel has also been found. Inquiries were made at a perfume museum how this got on board and it is suspected that a woman gave it to her husband so that he could still smell her perfume on board. Items that belonged to Janna Duivewaarden from Kapelle were also taken over after her death. During the Second World War she was a nurse at the Sint Johanna Hospital in Goes, where she cared for French soldiers, among others. She received five medals from the Red Cross for her work during the war. These are also on display, along with her certificates and various identity papers.

The Vitality Foundation is named after the code word for the liberation of South Beveland. This third operation of the battle for the Scheldt started on October 24 with an attack by the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division from their bridgehead against South Beveland. The Canadians had hoped to be able to advance here quickly, to circumvent opposition and to take control of the bridges across the Channel through South Beveland. Their advance was slowed by mud mines and a stubborn German defense.
The 52nd (Lowland) Division carried out an amphibious assault over the Western Scheldt to land behind the strong German defenses of the Channel through South Beveland. This German defense was circumvented in this way. The Canadian 6th Infantry Brigade launched a frontal attack in assault boats. The engineers were able to bridge the canal along the main road. When the canal line was broken with this, the German resistance on South Beveland crumbled. The third phase of the battle for the Scheldt was thus completed.

For current visiting hours, please visit the website of the museum.

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  • Text: Stichting Vitality / Mia van den Berg
  • Photos: Arjan Vrieze (1, 6), Mia van den Berg (2, 3, 4, 5)